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UPSC Prelims 2020 Topics: 13 February 2020
- Iran celebrates 1979 Islamic Revolution.
- Uniform Civil Code.
- Private member’s Bill.
- Safer Internet Day.
- Scholarship for Higher Studies
- Storm Ciara.
- SC/ST Amendment Act, 2018
- Anticipatory Bail
- International Day of Women and Girls in Science.
- Gender Gap
- Indian nationals living abroad.
- Cash Reserve Ratio
- UNHCR launches ‘2 Billion Kilometers to Safety’ campaign.
- Net Demand and Time Liabilities (NDTL)
Context: SC backs move of Karnataka government to demolish restaurants near Hampi site.
The court concluded that the constructions were in violation of the Mysore Ancient and Historical Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act of 1961.
Previously, the Karnataka High Court had held that the Hampi World Heritage Area Management Authority was empowered to order the demolition of the illegal buildings. UPSC Prelims 2020 Topics
- It is a UNESCO world heritage site.
- It was a part of the Mauryan Empire back in the third century BC.
- Hampi was the capital city during the four different dynasties altogether in the Vijayanagar city that came into existence in the year 1336 AD.
- The Vijayanagara Empire reached unfathomable heights under the guidance of King Krishnadeva Raya of the Tuluva Dynasty.
- ‘Kishkindha Kaand’ in Ramayana has special significance concerning Hampi.
- It is located near the Tungabhadra river.
- By 1500 CE, Hampi-Vijayanagara was the world’s second-largest medieval-era city after Beijing, and probably India’s richest at that time, attracting traders from Persia and Portugal.
- It has been described by UNESCO as an “austere, grandiose site” of more than 1,600 surviving remains of the last great Hindu kingdom in South India.
Gender Gap in Science Education
- February 11 was the International Day of Women and Girls in Science, established by the United Nations to promote equal access to and participation in science for women and girls.
- According to a 2018 fact sheet prepared by UNESCO on women in science, just 28.8% of researchers are women.
- UNESCO data from 2014-16 show that only around 30% of female students select STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics)-related fields in higher education.
- Female enrolment is particularly low in information technology (3%), natural science, mathematics and statistics (5%) and engineering and allied streams (8%).
- Various studies have found that girls excel at mathematics and science-oriented subjects in school, but boys often believe they can do better, which shapes their choices in higher studies.
- In 2015, an analysis of PISA scores by OECD found that the difference in maths scores between high-achieving boys and girls was the equivalent of about half a year at school.
- But when comparing boys and girls who reported similar levels of self-confidence and anxiety about mathematics, the gender gap in performance disappeared, when girls were more anxious, they tended to perform poorly.
- The NITI Aayog report said, “The problem of entry of women in science is not uniform across disciplines.
Government Scholarship for Higher Studies
- Government of India has launched various scholarship schemes for Indian Students for pursuing higher studies abroad, which are as follows
- National Overseas Scholarship for Scheduled Caste Students – The scheme is implemented by the Department of Social Justice and Empowerment under which financial assistance is provided to the meritorious Scheduled Caste students.
- National Overseas Scholarship for Scheduled Tribe Students – The scheme is implemented by the Ministry of Tribal Affairs where in financial assistance is provided to the meritorious Scheduled Tribe students.
- Overseas Doctoral Fellowship Programme – The Science and Engineering Research Board (SERB), a statutory body of the Department of Science and Technology launched an Overseas Doctoral Fellowship Program with specific Universities to build national capacity where the talent supply of researchers in areas of interest to the country is sub-critical.
- Sending Students Abroad for Research Internships – All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) in collaboration with ‘Mathematics of Information Technology and Computer Systems (MITACS)’ provides a platform from 2018 to the students of AICTE approved institutions to undergo Internship in Canadian Universities through its scheme.
- University Grants Commission (UGC) – Under Education Exchange Programme between India and Hungary, the Hungarian Govt. offers 200 scholarships to Indian students for pursuing Higher education in Hungarian Higher education institutions. UPSC Prelims 2020 Topics
SC/ST Amendment Act, 2018
- The 2018 Supreme Court verdict had made a provision for anticipatory bail to offenders under Scheduled Castes & Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Amendment Act.
- However, after strong protests against the dilution across the country, Union government removed this provision to bring the law back to its original form.
- Recently SC upheld the amendments, ruling that though the provision of anticipatory bail is not available under the law, courts can quash FIRs in exceptional circumstances.
- The court also ruled that preliminary enquiry is not a must in cases of atrocities against SCs/STs, and no prior approval of an appointing authority or senior police officers is required before filing FIRs.
- However, a caveat that anticipatory bail should be granted only in extraordinary situations where a denial of bail would mean miscarriage of justice.
Cash Reserve Ratio
- Cash Reserve Ratio (CRR) is the share of a bank’s total deposit that is mandated by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to be maintained with the latter in the form of liquid cash.
- The Cash Reserve Ratio acts as one of the reference rates when determining the base rate.
- Base rate means the minimum lending rate below which a bank is not allowed to lend funds.
- The base rate is determined by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI).
- The rate is fixed and ensures transparency with respect to borrowing and lending in the credit market.
- The Base Rate also helps the banks to cut down on their cost of lending to be able to extend affordable loans.
- Apart from this, there are two main objectives of the Cash Reserve Ratio:
- Cash Reserve Ratio ensures that a part of the bank’s deposit is with the Central Bank and is hence, secure.
- Another objective of CRR is to keep inflation under control. During high inflation in the economy, RBI raises the CRR to lower the bank’s loanable funds.
Iran celebrates 1979 Islamic Revolution
Context: Iran celebrates 1979 Islamic Revolution.
About Islamic Revolution:
Also called Islamic Revolution, it was a popular uprising in Iran in 1978–79 that resulted in the toppling of the monarchy on February 11, 1979, and led to the establishment of an Islamic republic.
Reasons advanced for the revolution include:
- A backlash against Western imperialism.
- the 1953 Iranian coup d’état.
- a rise in expectations created by the 1973 oil revenue windfall.
- an overly ambitious economic program.
- anger over a short, sharp economic contraction in 1977–78.
- other shortcomings of the previous regime.
Following the Iranian Revolution of 1979, the Islamic Republic was formed under Khomeini’s rule. The U.S. Embassy in Iran was taken over by a group of Muslim students and 52 U.S. diplomats and citizens were taken hostage on November 4, 1979. This event came to be known as the Iran Hostage Crisis.
Uniform Civil Code
Context: Last week, while hearing a matter relating to properties of a Goan, the Supreme Court described Goa as a “shining example” with a Uniform Civil Code, observed that the founders of the Constitution had “hoped and expected” a Uniform Civil Code for India but there has been no attempt at framing one.
What is uniform civil code?
A generic set of governing laws for every citizen without taking into consideration the religion.
What the constitution says?
Article 44 of the Constitution says that there should be a Uniform Civil Code. According to this article, “The State shall endeavor to secure for the citizens a uniform civil code throughout the territory of India”. Since the Directive Principles are only guidelines, it is not mandatory to use them. UPSC Prelims 2020 Topics
India needs a Uniform Civil Code for the following reasons:
- A secular republic needs a common law for all citizens rather than differentiated rules based on religious practices.
- Another reason why a uniform civil code is needed is gender justice. The rights of women are usually limited under religious law, be it Hindu or Muslim. The practice of triple talaq is a classic example.
- Many practices governed by religious tradition are at odds with the fundamental rights guaranteed in the Indian Constitution.
- Courts have also often said in their judgements that the government should move towards a uniform civil code including the judgement in the Shah Bano case.
Does India not already have a uniform code in civil matters?
- Indian laws do follow a uniform code in most civil matters – Indian Contract Act, Civil Procedure Code, Sale of Goods Act, Transfer of Property Act, Partnership Act, Evidence Act etc. States, however, have made hundreds of amendments and therefore in certain matters, there is diversity even under these secular civil laws. Recently, several states refused to be governed by the uniform Motor Vehicles Act, 2019.
- If the framers of the Constitution had intended to have a Uniform Civil Code, they would have given exclusive jurisdiction to Parliament in respect of personal laws, by including this subject in the Union List. But “personal laws” are mentioned in the Concurrent List.
Last year, the Law Commission concluded that a Uniform Civil Code is neither feasible nor desirable.
Why is UCC may not desirable at this point?
Secularism cannot contradict the plurality prevalent in the country. Besides, cultural diversity cannot be compromised to the extent that our urge for uniformity itself becomes a reason for threat to the territorial integrity of the nation.
The term ‘secularism’ has meaning only if it assures the expression of any form of difference. This diversity, both religious and regional, should not get subsumed under the louder voice of the majority. At the same time, discriminatory practices within a religion should not hide behind the cloak of that faith to gain legitimacy.
How does the idea of a Uniform Civil Code relate to the fundamental right to religion?
Article 25 lays down an individual’s fundamental right to religion; Article 26(b) upholds the right of each religious denomination or any section thereof to “manage its own affairs in matters of religion”; Article 29 defines the right to conserve distinctive culture.
An individual’s freedom of religion under Article 25 is subject to “public order, health, morality” and other provisions relating to fundamental rights, but a group’s freedom under Article 26 has not been subjected to other fundamental rights
In the Constituent Assembly, there was division on the issue of putting Uniform Civil Code in the fundamental rights chapter. The matter was settled by a vote. By a 5:4 majority, the fundamental rights sub-committee headed by Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel held that the provision was outside the scope of fundamental rights and therefore the Uniform Civil Code was made less important than freedom of religion.
What is needed now?
Need of the hour is the codification of all personal laws so that prejudices and stereotypes in every one of them would come to light and can be tested on the anvil of fundamental rights of the Constitution. By codification of different personal laws, one can arrive at certain universal principles that prioritise equity rather than imposition of a Uniform Code, which would discourage many from using the law altogether, given that matters of marriage and divorce can also be settled extra-judicially.
Private member’s Bill
Context: Four Members of Parliament are ready with Private Member’s Bill in the Lok Sabha offering a way out for the central government to deal with high unemployment. UPSC Prelims 2020 Topics
The four bills are:
- Unemployment Allowance Bill 2019 propose doling out some form of unemployment allowance to jobless citizens.
- Financial Assistance to Unemployed Post-Graduates Bill 2019 restricts the unemployment allowances to unemployed postgraduates only.
- Unemployed Youth (Allowance and Employment Opportunities) Bill 2019 eyes the twin-purpose of generating gainful employment opportunities and payment of unemployment allowance.
- Another Unemployment Allowance Bill proposes unemployment allowances for jobless youth until they get gainful employment.
Unable to tame rising unemployment has been the biggest criticism against the present government in its near six-year tenure. Part of the blame does lie with the central government itself. More than 6.83 lakh posts are lying vacant in the central government.
Who is a Private Member?
Any MP who is not a Minister is referred to as a private member.
Admissibility of a private member’s Bill:
The admissibility is decided by the Chairman for Rajya Sabha and Speaker in the case of Lok Sabha.
The procedure is roughly the same for both Houses:
- The Member must give at least a month’s notice before the Bill can be listed for introduction.
- The House secretariat examines it for compliance with constitutional provisions and rules on legislation before listing.
Is there any exception?
While government Bills can be introduced and discussed on any day, private member’s Bills can be introduced and discussed only on Fridays.
Has a private member’s bill ever become a law?
As per PRS Legislative, no private member’s Bill has been passed by Parliament since 1970. To date, Parliament has passed 14 such Bills, six of them in 1956. In the 14th Lok Sabha, of the over 300 private member’s Bills introduced, roughly four per cent were discussed, the remaining 96 per cent lapsed without a single dialogue.
Safer Internet Day:
This year, February 11 is being observed as Safer Internet Day (SID).
The SID initiative first began in Europe, but is now recognised in around 150 countries worldwide.
Aim: To increase awareness about emerging online issues, such as cyberbullying, and chooses a topic reflecting current concerns.
- This year, the theme is “Together for a better internet”.
- It is organised by the Insafe/INHOPE network of awareness centres, that is spread across 30 countries and is funded by the Connecting Europe Facility program (CEF) of the EU.
- In India, the New Delhi-based NGO DISC (Developing Internet Safe Community) Foundation is the SID Committee.
- It is a latest storm to hit Northern Europe.
- It is expected to hit Ireland, France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Switzerland, and Germany.
- In Germany, it is being referred to as ‘Sabine’. The storm has two names because there isn’t yet a pan-European system in place for labeling weather systems. UPSC Prelims 2020 Topics
International Day of Women and Girls in Science:
February 11 was the International Day of Women and Girls in Science.
It was established by the United Nations to promote equal access to and participation in science for women and girls.
- According to a 2018 fact sheet prepared by UNESCO on women in science, just 28.8% of researchers are women.
- It defines researchers as “professionals engaged in the conception or creation of new knowledge”. In India, this drops to 13.9%.
- Between 1901 and 2019, 334 Nobel Prizes have been awarded to 616 Laureates in Physics, Chemistry and Medicine, of which just 20 have been won by 19 women. The double Laureate is Marie Curie.
- In 2019, the American mathematician Karen Uhlenbeck became the first woman to win the Abel Prize, following 16 male mathematicians.
- The Fields Medal so far has also been awarded to only one woman mathematician, the late Maryam Mirzakhani of Iran, as opposed to 59 men since 1936. UPSC Prelims 2020 Topics
- Ministry of Corporate Affairs deployed a new Web Form christened ‘SPICe+’, replacing the existing SPICe form.
- The initiative is a part of India’s effort to improve Ease of Doing Business (EODB).
- SPICe+ would offer 10 services by 3 Central Govt Ministries & Departments. (Ministry of Corporate Affairs, Ministry of Labour & Department of Revenue in the Ministry of Finance) and One State Govt.(Maharashtra), thereby saving as many procedures, time and cost for Starting a Business in India.
- It would be applicable for all new company incorporations.
- It features are as follows:
1. SPICe+ would be an integrated Web Form.
2. SPICe+ would have two parts viz.: Part A-for Name reservation for new companies and Part B offering a bouquet of services.
Net Demand and Time Liabilities (NDTL)
- NDTL refers to the total demand and time liabilities (deposits) of the public that are held by the banks with other banks.
- Demand deposits consist of all liabilities, which the bank needs to pay on demand.
- They include current deposits, demand drafts, balances in overdue fixed deposits, and demand liabilities portion of savings bank deposits.
- Time deposits consist of deposits that will be repaid on maturity, where the depositor will not be able to withdraw his/her deposits immediately.
- Instead, he/she will have to wait until the lock-in tenure is over to access the funds.
- Fixed deposits, time liabilities portion of savings bank deposits, and staff security deposits are some examples.
- The liabilities of a bank include call money market borrowings, certificate of deposits, and investment deposits in other banks.
- Every bank must have a specified portion of their Net Demand and Time Liabilities (NDTL) in the form of cash, gold, or other liquid assets by the day’s end. UPSC Prelims 2020 Topics
Indian nationals living abroad:
- There are over 1.36 crore Indian nationals living abroad, as per the latest data.
- The highest number of Indians abroad are living in the United Arab Emirates, where the 34,20,000 Indians comprise about one-fourth of all Indians abroad.
- The UAE is followed by Saudi Arabia (25,94,947), the US (12,80,000), Kuwait (10,29,861), Oman (7,79,351), Qatar (7,56,062), Nepal (5,00,000), UK (3,51,000), Singapore (3,50,000) and Bahrain (3,23,292).
UNHCR launches ‘2 Billion Kilometers to Safety’ campaign:
- The UN Refugee Agency UNHCR has announced a new global campaign urging people worldwide to cover the total distance travelled by refugees each year – 2 billion kilometers – by running, jogging or walking.
- The “2 Billion Kilometers to Safety” campaign vies to encourage people to support refugees by championing individual acts of solidarity.
- The goal is to acknowledge the resilience and strength of refugees.
The difference between private and government Bills in Parliament(IE) While a government Bill can be introduced and discussed on any day, a private member’s bill can only be introduced and discussed on Fridays.
₹81.67 crore worth electoral bonds sold before Delhi Assembly Elections, RTI query shows (TH) Scheme attracted criticism for lack of transparency in political funding.
Bill to regulate pesticide business gets green light (TH) The Union Cabinet on Wednesday approved the Pesticides Management Bill, 2020, which, the go- vernment claims will regu- late the business of pesti- cides and compensate farmers in case of losses from the use of spurious agro-chemicals.
Reading medical devices rules (IE) Following changes notified by the government, medical devices will be regulated on the same lines as drugs. What devices are covered, what has changed, and why was this move felt necessary?
GS2: International Relations
Rohingya can’t be kept in jail after serving term: HC (TH) The refugees will have to be taken to a safe place and continue to be monitored, says Bench
U.S. President Trump confirms India visit (TH) US President Donald Trump will make his first official visit to India later this month, capping weeks of speculation on the trip that is expected to witness deepening of defence cooperation and signing of a trade pact.
Why industrial production has contracted, what it means for the economy IE- Explained The fall in IIP comes just a day after the Finance Minister quoted IIP data to argue the emergence of ‘green shoots’ in the Indian economy.
It’s a relief FM did not succumb to spending our way out of the growth slump(IE) As much as the headline fiscal deficit numbers are a cause for concern, the underlying quality of fiscal consolidation is a bigger concern.
GS3: Science and Technology
Indian Express: What is SuperCam? Atop new Mars rover, a robot that fires lasers to study rocks, and will look for signs of past life on Red Planet
GS1: Indian Geography
Ministry of Earth Sciences may go in for decadal forecast system (TH) System based on need for long-term predictions; will begin as research.
Cleaning of drains & septic tanks claims 110 lives in 2019 (TH) The number of people who died while cleaning sewers and septic tanks in the country increased by almost 62% from 68 in 2018 to 110 in 2019, according to a reply given by the Social Justice and Empowerment (SJE) Ministry to the Lok Sabha on Tuesday.
Six years on, Lokpal is a non-starter (TH) The necessary rules, regulations and machinery are still not in place
Medical devices to come under drugs regulator’s purview starting 1 April (Mint) All medical devices, including implants and contraceptives, will be brought under the lens of CDSCO in a phased manner. UPSC Prelims 2020 Topics
GS2: International Relations
First call (TH) India and Sri Lanka share close ties, but distrust and differences remain
A new approach on investment (TH) For India and the U.S., this will be critical to sustain momentum coming out of a first trade deal
Renewable energy: India’s wind power sector is in a downward spiral (DTE)The sector is losing its sheen, with dropping capacity addition, lukewarm response to new auctions, and a plummeting manufacturing sector
Supreme Court upholds changes to SC/ST atrocities law (TH) The March 20 judgment had diluted the original 1989 legislation, saying they were using its provisions to file false criminal complaints against innocent persons
‘Review court can refer questions to larger Bench’ (TH) The Supreme Court on Monday held that its five-judge Bench can refer questions of law to a larger Bench while exercising its limited power under review-jurisdiction in the Sabarimala case.
Draft policy on rare diseases notified (TH) Judges not satisfied with the provision of ₹15 lakh for one-time curative treatment
Reservation as right (TH) Ensuring adequate representation to disadvantaged sections is a state obligation
Explained: Uniform Civil Code — the debate, the status (IE) Recent observations by the Supreme Court have put the spotlight back on the debate over a Uniform Civil Code. What would such a Code seek to achieve, and what have been the arguments for and against it?
Explained: Fine-tuning the Surrogacy Bill (IE) A Select Committee has given its report on the Surrogacy Regulation Bill, recommending that surrogacy should not be restricted to close relatives. A look at the provisions and journey of the Bill since 2016. UPSC Prelims 2020 Topics
Safeguarding the delta The move for a protected agriculture zone in T.N. favours food security over energy greed
GS3: Science and Technology
Explained: What is Solar Orbiter, and how does it differ from previous missions to the Sun? (IE) The Solar Orbiter mission, which will take the first pictures of the top and bottom of the sun, is worth approximately Rs11,700 crore.
Source: PIB, AIR, Economic Times, The Hindu, Indian Express etc.